Total Raised For St. Jude (Since 2008): $5,110
Total Raised This Year: $2,010

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Contemplating 2011

3 years of running has taken its toll on me. I have had 6 months of inactivity due to tendinitis. Today, much weaker and 10 pounds heavier, I ran 5 miles for the first time since the Memphis St. Jude Marathon and I felt pretty good. Thoughts kept going through my head wondering if I could really do this again. Could my body really hold up? Could I possibly find the time? Could I find a way not to collapse in the middle of the stupid road this time? I really want to run this again but I don't know if my body will let me. I am open to the possibility which is more than I could say a few months ago. It makes it equally hard to turn down given the fact that my sponsors have donated over $5000 to St. Jude over the last three years. So today I ran looking for validation that I should subject myself to this glorious affliction once again. After the run, I checked the Memphis St. Jude Marathon website for prices and I saw this bald man staring back at me.

I had two split second reactions to this picture. One, that is one handsome fellow and two, that was me! Yeah.. that's my picture on the front of the website. I am equally as excited that they didn't take a picture of me lying in the road at mile 21.

So here I am counting the cost once again. Very few things in my life have been more rewarding than this race and the benefits it brings to the children of St. Jude. I am going to "try" for a long run on Friday. If I make it, I may be throwing in my chips once again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2010 Memphis St. Jude Marathon

The last 36 hours leading up to the marathon could not have been any worse. I went from feeling great to coming up with a horrible head cold. The night before the marathon I got a solid 2 hours of sleep thanks to the anxiety and sickness. On the way to the race, I had an overwhelming since of nausea likely due to the congestion and cold medicine I had been pumping into my body. The 26.2 mile marathon is excruciatingly difficult. I personally didn't need any additional challenges. I was determined however to run no matter my conditions. After 4 months of training and generous support from my sponsors, running the race was my own option.

My Race Summary
Miles 1-3
So I decided to shave my head this week for the race. In honor of the children of St. Jude fighting for a cancer, I thought this would be a neat gesture. Given the temperature was to be in the mid 50's, I thought this was a safe gamble. I did not take into consideration that high winds would make their presence known. So with a bald head and teeth chattering, I began the run. My goal was to try to run a 9:45 per mile pace and see if I could hold it the entire marathon. I thought this to be highly optimistic but perhaps attainable. After three miles my pace was at 9:11 seconds pace per mile. We turned up Beale Street where thousands of people were cheering. I passed my wife but didn't know it. I found out later she took off on a sprint and collided with several people to get in shouting distance. I stopped and got a quick good luck kiss.

Miles 4-6
This is one of the best parts of the race. The race takes the runners through the St. Jude campus. Many of the runners including myself are called St. Jude Heroes and wear identifying singlets to show they raised money for. St. Jude. As we entered the campus a large band played to a song called "Run Heroes Run." Inside the campus were the patients of St. Jude cheering us on. One day I'll make it through campus without choking up. This was not that day. What a great experience.

Miles 7-13
On mile 7 I came up on the 4:05 pace group. I couldn't believe I was running with them. Basically this meant I was running 35 - 40 seconds per mile faster than my race goal. I knew I should have slowed down but I didn't want to so I kept going. I finally realized at mile 11 that it would be suicide to try to keep up with them for another 15 miles so I told myself I had to slow down.

Miles 13-16
At the halfway point I saw my wife again. I can't tell you how awesome it was to see her. My parents and sister were there cheering me on too. My wife asked me how I was doing and I told her my cold was starting to get to me and my legs felt heavy which was not a good sign given that I had half of a marathon left to run. My legs hurt and I had a very bad feeling but I had enough energy to keep running. I made it to mile 17 with my legs feeling heavier than ever.

Mile 17-20
It started happening again. Just like my first 2 marathons, my calves started twitching. I knew I was dehydrated because of my cold. I knew the twitching were a preliminary sign of a much bigger problem. Almost as soon as I started, I passed a lady holding up a picture of her son with cancer. It said, "thank you for running for my son." After running for three hours, it doesn't take much to impact you emotionally. I was certainly no exception. Though my calves were twitching and were very uncomfortable, I decided I was going to keep running. I couldn't believe what I was doing. I crossed mile 20 without any significant stops the whole time. I only had 6.2 miles to go. The twitching was becoming more frequent but I continued to run while others were walking. I crossed mile 20 at a 9:30 pace and I started thinking that I was going to shatter my best marathon time. I was staring a sub 4 hours and 10 minutes in the face. I remember distinctly thinking about my calves and thinking to myself, "do your worst!"

It did.

Mile 21-26.2
It could not have been more blatant if a bullet went straight through my leg. An all out cramp shot through my leg. I collapsed in the middle of the street. Some spectators ran out too me. I looked at my right calve and there was a massive hole right where my calve muscle used to be. It was contracting uncontrollably and with indescribable intensity. It took a few minutes for it to subside as I laid in the middle of the street. I stood up finally and tried to run again. 10 seconds after I started running it started coming on again. I let it subside and tried again. Same result. I had not given up but my body had. The runners, and my personal record setting time, were passing me by.

I was 5 miles out. One thing I have learned about the marathon and training is that quitting has to be the last option. My mindset quickly changed from "how fast do I finish the marathon" to "somehow find a way to finish" I started walking slowly and my legs and hips burned. It hurt almost as bad to walk as it did to run. I just continued to breath heavy and try to forget about the pain. I watched my garmin runner's watch pace slowly climb from a 9:31 pace to unimaginable numbers a few miles before. I passed my friend's house at mile 22 and told him to call my family and tell them I was fine but I was in trouble. I told him to tell them they would have to wait a lot longer but I was going to finish. I continued to walk / wobble gingerly. At mile 23 (after 2 miles of walking), I tried to run again and my muscles started twitching instantly. So I walked some more. At mile 25 1/2 I could see the stadium and tried to jog. I was able to fight through the twitching and finish at 4 hours and 46 minutes and 45 seconds. Somehow I still finished in the top 50% of registered runners but I am not sure how.

The car was 2 blocks away but I couldn't make it. Halfway there I stopped unable to walk. My wife went the rest of the way to the car and picked me up. It sure was a good thing the marathon was not 27.2 miles.

To my sponsors, I humbly submit to you that I did every thing I could to earn your support. I do not take your sponsorship lightly and I believe we did a wonderful thing. This year we raised $2,010 and a three year total of $5,110! To the lady with the sign that said, "thank you for running for my son.." It was an honor.

I think my sponsors would agree.

Friday, December 3, 2010

24 Hours to Go!

I can't tell you how excited I am for my third marathon. Given my first 2 experiences with the marathon, I am not sure why I get excited for such self imposed torture. However this year I have felt stronger than ever. I have trained exclusive on hills for the first time and been very encouraged with both my strategy and training.

And then last night hit.

In a matter of moments, I went to feeling fine to having a horrible head cold. I can barely breathe, I have sinus pressure that is unbearable and I am fighting to keep a cough out of my chest. Well the marathon is about persevering so I will lace them up regardless and sprint, run, walk, waddle or crawl for 26.2 miles. Oh and the low temperature went from 40 degrees to 31 degrees over an hours time last night (yes, I check the weather regularly). Perhaps I am now second guessing the whole shaving my head bald thing.

With that said, I am still thrilled to be doing this again. I can't wait until mile 6 when I run through the campus of St. Jude and see all the children for whom this cause is for. 26.2 miles is waiting. Let's just hope I do better than this person.